IN DAR ES SALAAM
Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and Uganda's JKL Dolphine Tuesday clash in a must-win match that could have a lot of bearing on Group 'A'.
Apart from bragging rights, the winner of the group also stands a strong chance of making it to the final thus booking one of the two automatic tickets for the Fiba Africa Club Championships final tour set for Madagascar next month.
Formed only three years ago, moneybags JKL Dolphine have been dominant in the Ugandan league suddenly bringing to an end the KCCA-UCU five-year dominance.
It is therefore not surprising that the team has assembled Uganda's finest for the Zone Five championship making them the team to beat. All but two of the players who did duty for the Uganda national team during the Afrobasketball qualifiers are part of the Dolphine team for this tournament.
They include Brenda Ekon, Rita Imanishimwe, Sarah Ageno, Zaina Lokwameri and Flavia Oketch. Others are Tulindwa Maureen, Paul Amon and Hope Akello.
The Ugandans will however have to do without star guard Jamila Zama who left for the United States on a basketball scholarship in July.
JKL coach Henry Malinga said he may be new at the championships but is happy that a majority of his players have the much needed exposure.
"We might be knew at this championships because practically it is our first time but we are ready and equal to the task ahead," he said on Monday.
KPA, on the other hand, have been winning this event since 2016 but lost the title to Equity Bank last year. Coach Mike Opel, who took over the coaching duties at KPA this year, is however confident he has a strong team that can reclaim the title.
"I respect the quality of players in the JKL team but I also have a number of national team players in my roster which should make work easier for me," he said.